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13 Runners Give Beginners The Advice They Wish They'd Gotten

YOU NEED TO STRETCH.

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"Running at sunrise or sunset is more meditative and therapeutic than any yoga class you'll ever take."

—Tory (28), 1:47 Half Marathon

"I thought the secret to getting faster was to run every training run like a race — pushing myself to the limit five or six times a week while trying to build up my mileage until I was running my target race distance every day. This was a recipe for one injury after another. The secret I learned was to burn out every different muscle type each week but do so with one long run, one track workout, and then run the other days nice and slow."

—Matt (42), 2:48:43 Marathon

"I wish someone had told me to find a running buddy earlier. Running and training on your own is meditative and great for clearing the head. However, when you have a running companion or group, it helps to give you the needed motivation to get out of bed or to find another gear to kick into when you do a harder workout."

—Justin (31), 2:43:13 Marathon

"ALWAYS download your playlists so they're available offline — nothing is worse than hitting your stride right as your 3G cuts out."

—Jen (27), 2:03:01 Half Marathon

"My advice is to not skip a warm-up! For me, the first mile or two of a run is always pretty miserable, but it'll pass; your body will adjust and you'll hit your stride, so push through!"

—Rachel (30), 4:19 Marathon

"You can run home after two beers. Not three."

—Andrew (31), 3:06:02 Marathon

"When I started running, I had to hold a Discman steady so my CDs wouldn't skip — so be happy those days are over. It truly is mind over matter. Get lost in the music and the next thing you know, you could be running a marathon in SF singing Kelly Clarkson out loud."

—Tara (29), Proud Marathon Finisher

"Best advice I ever got was to get tested for a pair of running shoes. Previously, I had been choosing sneakers that looked cool...to the detriment of my feet, knees, and hips. My running shoes may not be the most fashionable now, but they're definitely more supportive and custom to my stride and step."

—Leah (27), 2:01:02 Half Marathon

"The most important thing the day before a race is a good night's sleep. The most important thing the day of the race is timing that last pee."

—James (25), 1:28:17 Half Marathon

"Running is always hard. It doesn't matter how many miles you have under your belt or what your average speed is. Regardless of it being your first or twentieth mile of the day, week, or month, sometimes running a mile just blows and you gotta push through it."

—Nikki (28), 4:24:50 Marathon

"I wish I realized the importance of stretching. I had to hobble my way through the last 10 miles of a half marathon due to some serious IT band pain, leading me to physical therapy, where I learned some great glute and hip strengthening exercises. Completing those exercises on a regular basis has kept my body in check ever since."

—Marc (25), 1:53:16 Half Marathon

"Experiment with listening to different types of audio as you run. When I started running, I blasted music and found myself getting bored. Now, I listen to podcasts or audiobooks when I run to keep myself more interested. It can also be a great way to pace yourself! Setting a goal of 'run for the entire podcast' can often feel more achievable than 'run five miles without stopping.'"

—Bryan (27), Half Marathon Finisher

"I wish I had been given the 'humans were born to run' spiel when I first started out. As a chubby 13-year-old, I didn't think running was for me. If it were natural, it wouldn't hurt so bad. In my twenties, a difficult breakup led me to find my legs. I ran to clear my head and to regain control. I ran because I didn't want to talk to anyone. Some days it was indisputable — going on a run was the only thing I could do and the only thing I would do.

"About this time, I learned that primitive man ran long distances to chase down prey. We literally outran our food — going for miles until the wild game gave up. I often wondered if my ancestors felt the same instincts: to run for miles, pounding the dirt, accelerating on an uphill sprint just because it felt right. Turns out, they did. Running is as much a human condition as heartbreak is."

—Ryan (26), Runner, Lover, Human Being

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